Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Friday, April 6, 2012

Home On The Range~

GPS Track
I'm getting through these days one step at a time.  Trying to keep my mind & body busy enough that I'm not overwhelmed by grief.  Wishing that I hadn't gone on this ride & had stayed home to watch over Kitt - even knowing that she had the best of care.

Now - for my "Ride Story" & I'm sticking to it!  The third "Rider Option" pull of my career...  (The first was when Jas was unable to start, so Butch offered me Khaz for the 50 at this same ride in 1999.  I Quit!  Flat-Out Quit at about 35-miles.  Khaz at that age was a mad-man...  I started toward the back of the pack, tried to ride "conservatively" until we were caught by the front running 25's!  Khaz lost his mind - I lost mine & decided to call it a day.  The second time was in 2010 at Elbe Hills.  The undo-able 50 where Lois F. was the last to finish in time - fifth place - that should tell you something if you know Lois F.!  Even though I was top-ten & Khari vetted with all A's - I just couldn't see beating her up with another 25-mi. of slippery mud when we'd not be able to complete in time to get a completion even if we'd finished! 

This ride - was the third...  

We left home at 7 a.m. & made good time over the pass, arriving at Washtucna by noon.  It was raining & didn't take long before the tractor came by - hooked us up & towed us through the worst of the mud.  I know...  you say;  "mud"?  Western, WA?  Mud?   We sat up camp, vetted the horses through & visited with friends.  At the Ride Meeting, the group of Rancher's who hosted our event confirmed that the rainfall was very unusual.  We received some really nice information sheets highlighting the historical features of the area.  Head Vet Dick Root warned us about the cold weather & additional challenges this would present in keeping the horses warm at the VC's.  We were expecting a cold & wet ride.

Surprise!  After raining part of the night, the morning arrived with clearing skies & the light of the sun peeking over the horizon!  Khari had traveled Great, eaten everything in sight & was more than Ready to Go!  Charlotte & I left just behind the front riders at the start.  Before long we were moving up & passing horses.  There were the unusual "obstacles", low underpass that we had to go through, train tracks (the trains were blocked while we were crossing), going through the yard with the barking dog etc.  :-)  Khari felt So Good that when a group of us started galloping up a short hill - she threw in a nice big buck!  

The loop went fast, we were back in camp at 8:43 a.m. & Khari was down!  15 min. hold, just enough time to eat a cookie & give Khari a few minutes to eat.  Charlotte was held up in the VC.  I didn't know why - but it was taking longer than our out time.  I waited & waited, watched as a couple of my friends who had come in just ahead of me left.  I'd lost momentum & decided to go ahead & leave.  Another lady was leaving too.  I asked her if her horse was "forward" she assured me that it was.  After the first mile or so, it was obvious that we were going nowhere very fast.  I went to move Khari around her & realized that I'd forgotten my stick...  

Khari took the lead - where are the ribbons???   I asked myself with that sinking feeling that comes with knowing you haven't seen one for a while...  My traveling companion hadn't seen any either so we split up to look.  This loop was totally different terrain than the first.  Three foot tall Bunch-grass & the going so deep that Khari was sinking in 6" with every step.  Finally - I found ribbons & realized that we'd taken the loop out in the WRONG direction...  ribbons were on our LEFT... Not our Right.  My GPS said that we were about 3-mi. in - too far in those conditions to turn back & start over.  I decided to continue on - to do the loop in reverse - figuring that with the GPS & the time - that Gail would allow me the mistake as long as I'd done the miles & the correct loop.

Within a short time, the front-runners were coming at us.  This actually helped - since I could see where they were coming "from" & get an idea of where we were going.  Finding the ribbons was much more difficult!  Soon, riders who'd been just in front of us on the first loop were coming at us.  This made for some interesting conversation;  such as;  "WHAT are you DOING?!"  "Do you KNOW you're going the WRONG way?!"  At one point, we came to a water tank - relief - still on the trail - took off down a road where there were a LOT of prints in the mud... went on... no ribbons... Demoralizing - turn back...  look & look... FINALLY find a ribbon that was smashed up against the back side of a fence post!  Trail!  This section - which was actually well marked - had NO hoof-prints!  It was somehow being missed coming from the correct direction - but hay - who cared?  

FINALLY - we could see camp!  We arrived at 10:45 a.m.  Charlotte came in just a few minutes behind me.  I'd lost so much time on that loop that her hold up at the VC brought us back together.  Khari vetted through again in Great shape!  All those miles of training had paid off.  With a 45-min. hold, I changed out of my warm clothes into something lighter weight - the day was actually warming up!   (Dick told me that Gail was in the process of making a change to the final loop - that the blue had been so tough on the horses that they didn't want to use it for the last loop as originally planned.)

Charlotte & I left together just a few minutes after our out time of 11:31 a.m.  The lady who'd followed me on the second loop, again "tagged" along.  The good news - was that we went the right way - the bad news, for me anyway - is that I forgot to electrolyte myself...  Heat & humidity are my enemy...  They attacked about 1/2 way through.  I started melting down.  I stopped, got off, removed my helmet & drank a little of Charlotte's electrolytes.  It helped.  Back on & away we went - Khari Very strong & going Great.  Up ahead at about ten-miles in, we could see two men at a water tank.  We got there to find my friend David LeBlanc.  He & his companion had driven out to let everyone know that the last loop had been changed.  Instead of doing the infamous "Blue Loop" Gail had decided to send everyone out on the Red Loop again - but at the water tank, David was to send everyone down another way that would cut-off five-miles of the 15-mi. loop.   I drank part of a V-8 & shared it with my companions.  

Coming back into camp for the third time, at 2:15 p.m. Charlotte discovered that Aliento was "off".  The temperature was dropping quickly & dark clouds were rolling in.  At the VC, Aliento was pulled.  My friend Liz met me at the water tank when we arrived.  She'd driven down from north of Spokane to ride the "Trail Ride" on her young Curly.  I was so happy to see her!  She asked what she could do to help me & I told her to go ahead & vet Khari - which she did.  Khari actually jumped into the air on her trot-out & both Dick & Mike told Liz that I had plenty of horse left!  By the time Liz brought her back, I was shaking with cold & my ankle felt like it was ready to fall off, even with the brace & pain patch.  That's when I found out that Charlotte was done for the day.   The wind came up, blowing the rain sideways...  

At that point, I decided to call it a day...  I had plenty of time left to finish, but I just didn't have the will to go back out.   I changed into warm clothes, walked over with Liz to the barns to pass on the news of my pull.  Liz & I sat down & caught up a bit with each other - before she had to head home.  I walked back to our camp to find that Charlotte had put my tack away & was warming up soup!  Yum!  Time for the Bloody Mary's!  Even with Dr. Jen doing Khari's VC, she finished that 40-mi. with an A in attitude!  Jen had marked her gut sounds at B-, but I don't think they were that low.  We'd stopped several times on that third loop to let the horses graze & Khari had taken full advantage.  She hadn't taken her head out of her food tub since we'd returned to camp.

I was disappointed in myself, but it had been a stressful few days, first the ankle, then seeing Kitt run over - with the heartache & worry involved.  The second loop had really taken it out of me more than the mare.  I was very proud of Khari!  At one point on that loop, we were making our way up a big hill & she started to "bog-down".  I gave her my heels & she began attacking that mud & bunch grass - making huge leaps & taking us right up to the top!  Hardly a deep breath & she was ready to go on!  Meeting all those horses head-on, including her traveling buddy Aliento & still continuing forward without a battle really impressed me.  She listened, did her job & gave me a really great ride!
Waiting our turn to be pulled out, Sunday morning~

Now - my personal "commentary" on what I do & don't like about rides.  My favorite is going out - having one out check & returning to camp!  Think - "The DUCK" & "XP Rides"!  This type of ride is so much more fun!  You see more country & have less distraction.  Second, would be a ride where you head out - have an out-check, head back to ride camp on a different trail - have lunch, then a final loop.   Renegade  & Bare Bones were like this last season & it was great!  What I don't like - are a lot of loops & a lot of VC's.  My personal opinion is that it takes away from the momentum of the ride & is disheartening to horses & riders alike.  I hate repeat loops...
Going over the pass on our way home~

My "companion" on the second & third loops had a younger mare, when Liz returned from the VC, she said that this woman had about come unglued when Liz went to walk away with Khari to go check on her horse, tied to her trailer.  She started saying that Khari "HAD to stay" until her mare was vetted etc., etc.  Here's how I see it --  if you've made a pact to travel with someone - then that extends to the VC.  As most of us know, it can be hard to get your horse to pulse down if the other horse leaves.  BUT - & it's a Big But...  I'd made no such "pact" with this person.  Liz finally told her that if her husband would hold Khari while she checked on her horse, that Khari could stay nearby.  That's what finally happened.  If it had been ME - I wouldn't have been so accommodating...

I'm going to chalk this ride up as another "Learning Experience".   Where to go from here?  
I feel like the wind has been knocked out of my sails... 


  1. Ohhh, that sucks! But Khari wasn't hurt, and you weren't permanently hurt, so all's well. That sounds like a ton of VC's - the rides around here usually have 1 VC for an LD, 2 for a 50. You'd like High Desert - it runs up a hill to an away check, then a loop in the mountains and back to the check, then down a different trail back to camp for the finish. Three VCs, in camp, doesn't sound like much fun.

    More hugs for you.

    1. Maybe I'll make it out there one of these days... We're both "sound" :-) Khari tearing the yard apart! No - multiple VC's are Not fun! Completion VC makes 4!

  2. Hey gal, you've sure had a rough time lately. I'm so sorry!

    I think I might be the one who foisted that lady with the grey mare with you--if it's the same lady, she *insisted* on tailgating me and the Dragon out of camp on the first loop, and stuck with us for at least 7 miles, irritating Fiddle the entire way (you KNOW how the dragon feels about tailgaters!!!). I finally stopped dead in the trail and pushed the lady in front of us--and then let Fee stand and eat for 10 minutes while she went on ahead with somebody else...probably you, :-(

    1. Sure sounds like the same rider... She was "there" when I was leaving on the second loop - so the timing would be about right!


Always Welcome~